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Recap | The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup Round 26

Five teams have one game left to secure two top-five spots and play finals football in 2023, as an exciting The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup regular season concludes with Round 26. One of those teams, the Canberra Raiders, take on minor premiers the North Sydney Bears on this weekend's NSWRL TV game, live-streamed from North Sydney Oval at 2pm Sunday.

Dragons v Warriors

Panthers v Eels

Knights v Jets

Bulldogs v Sea Eagles

Roosters v Magpies

Bears v Raiders


St George Illawarra Dragons v Warriors

Warriors slay Dragons to guarantee finals run.

Bailey Whitton

Game summary

The Warriors have put last round’s loss behind them with an emphatic 42-12 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons at Ziems Park, Wollongong.

With the Warriors aiming to secure a 3rd place finish, they came out hard in the opening minutes, keeping the Dragons within their own half and pushing their way through the defence.

Eventually, they successfully raided the Dragon’s left-hand edge, with Te Maire Martin setting up Brayden Williame for the first try of the game. The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the score 4-nil after 7 minutes of play.

The Dragons started to work their way back into the arm-wrestle, with the Warriors conceding some key errors, throwing them off rhythm.

In the 18th minute it would be the Warriors who blinked first, with Dragon’s halfback Zach Herring making a 40-metre line break downfield and selling the Warriors a dummy to tie the game, with their successful conversion putting them in front.

In the Warriors’ next set, Te Maire Martin responded, putting a well-placed chip in to force a Dragon’s knock-on. The New Zealand side quickly capitalised on the error, putting Kalani Going over for a try.

But the Warriors weren’t done there. In the following set, Ben Farr made a massive break down the right wing, before passing back inside for fullback Taine Tuaupiki to score, extending their lead to 16-6.

Taking this momentum, the Warriors kept rolling downfield, slowly gaining more and more ground on the Dragons. A call of six-again in the 35th minute was all they needed. Ronald Volkman chipped the ball into the right corner for winger Ben Farr to join the scoring.

The Warriors ended the half with all the momentum, leading 20-6.

The start of the second half was less kind to the Warriors, as they were immediately penalised for being offside off the kick-off.

The Dragons attacked, sending the ball down the right edge before being blocked by an unsuccessful intercept attempt.

The Dragons went back down the right edge, however a mistimed pass knocked the ball out of their possession. Warrior Jacob Laban quickly gathered it and sprinted downfield, before passing to Te Maire Martin, then to Brayden Williame to score his double.

In the 55th minute after more jockeying for field position, the Dragons broke the deadlock. It was halfback Zach Herring who broke through a two-man tackle and offloaded to Treigh Stewart to bring the score to 26-12.

Ten minutes later, Kalani Going shifted the momentum back to the Warriors, where it stayed for the remainder of the game. Attacking the tryline, Going forced his way over several Dragon’s defenders and fell to the ground, before launching himself up and over the line for a double.

Moments later, Volkman put Tuaupiki through a hole, before running through in support to receive an offload to score. This left the scoreline 38-12 with 10 minutes to go.

Time ticked on and it looked like that would be the last of the points for the game, but the Warriors were hungry for one more and launched a final raid down the left in the dying moments. Volkman eventually got hooker Paul Roache over the line in the 79th minute for a 42-12 finish, sending the New Zealand side on to the finals.

Talking points

  • Te Maire Martin made his return to rugby league with a good showing at five-eighth, playing his first game since breaking his Fibula in Round 6 of the NRL. He started off reserved, before slowly injecting himself more in plays and producing some effective playmaking efforts. Martin played 51 minutes before joining the bench to end the game.
  • The Warriors right edge was the highlight of their attack with winger Ben Farr making several crucial line breaks and scoring a try alongside centre Brayden Williame’s double.

Key moment

The momentum of the game was swinging back and forth early on, but a perfectly placed chip from Te Maire Martin in the 22nd minute forced a Dragons knock-on.

Following the knock-on, Kalani Going scored through the middle of the Dragons pack, with the Warriors going back-to-back in the following set. This proved to be a sequence of play from which the Dragons never recovered. 

What’s next?

The Warriors have locked down 3rd position with this win and will head on to face the Rabbitohs in the first week of finals. Meanwhile, this loss sees the Dragons finish their 2023 season in 10th place.


Penrith Panthers v Parramatta Eels

Panthers' premiership reign over after Eels mount spectacular comeback

Stewart Moses

Game summary

The Penrith Panthers’ premiership defence is officially over. They were beaten 34-24 by the Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium this afternoon after conceding 30 points in the final 22 minutes.

The Panthers needed a big win to fight their way into 4th or 5th place on the ladder via points-differential. They looked to have such a win within their grasp when they raced out to a 24-4 lead after 52 minutes.

However, the Eels’ halves - the retiring Jordan Rankin and Brendan Hands - along with fullback Arthur Miller-Stephen sparked a comeback from the visitors that put an end to Penrith’s finals hopes for 2023.

An early kick error from Parramatta winger Haze Dunster enabled Penrith to score first. After shifting play right from the scrum and targeting the Eels’ left edge, Panthers’ fullback Isaiah Iongi provided the final pass for his winger Sam Lane to crash over in the southwest corner. This gave the home side a 4-nil lead after just four minutes of play.

The Panthers soon capitalised on some ill-discipline from the Eels and extended their lead to 10. It was an inside-outside play from backrower Preston Riki and Iongi that enabled the Panther’s fullback to score from close range in the 12th minute.

The Panthers soon took their lead out to 14 when a quick shift left from a penalty enabled Jaemon Salmon and Mavrik Geyer to combine, before putting winger Daeon Amituanai over. At 14-nil, the Panthers looked set for a big win on home soil.

However, an error from the kick-off by Geyer allowed Parrmatta centre Zac Cini to storm his way through some desperate cover defence to score in the north-west corner. The Eels now trailed 14-4, a scoreline which carried  into halftime.

After Eels backrower Dan Keir was sinbinned, Penrith capitalised to score early in the second half. Salmon and Geyer combined brilliantly again to put Amituanai over for this second in the northwest corner, with the Panthers taking an imposing 20-4 lead.

Despite the return of Keir from the sin bin, the home side extended that lead to 24-4 after 52 minutes when Toelau and Iongi bamboozled the Eels left edge defence to put Jack Cole over.

However, the game would be all Parramatta from that point onwards.

The Eels’ spectacular comeback began in the 59th minute with a Lachlan Blackburn try. After a Jordan Rankin 40/20 attempt that Penrith knocked on whilst attempting to defuse, Arthur Miller-Stephen delivered an exceptional pass for centre Blackburn to crash over out wide to put the Eels within 14 points.

Brendan Hands then gave the visitors their first back-to-back tries for the afternoon when he regathered a loose kick to score next to the posts. Suddenly, the Panthers looked nervous leading by just eight points with still fifteen minutes to play.

Arguably the most impressive try of game came next. Starting with a break on halfway by Miller-Stephens, the ball passed through multiple hands to once again find the Parramatta fullback who scored out wide. With Rankin nailing the difficult conversion attempt, it was game on with the Eels trailing 24-22 with ten minutes remaining.

Off the back of another penalty, the Eels would march downfield before quick hands to the left again caught the Panthers right edge defence napping. This enabled Cini to score his second try - this time in the south-east corner - to put Parramatta ahead for the first time in the game. Yet another difficult and successful conversion from inspiring skipper Rankin left the score 26-22 to Parramatta.

The Eels confirmed one of the most remarkable comebacks of the 2023 season when prop forward Makahesi Makatoa stormed his way to a try next to the post. With that fifth consecutive try, the Panthers’ premiership defence ended in spectacular fashion, going down 34-24.

Talking points

  • Penrith came into this game weakened by the late loss to their NRL side of Jesse McLean, Luke Sommerton and Jack Cogger.
  • The Eels were conversely strengthened by the return of Brendan Hands and Zac Cini, two players who were instrumental in Parramatta’s eventual win, scoring three tries between them.
  • Penrith came into the game level in 5th place with the Blacktown Worker Sea Eagles, but three points behind them on points-differential.
  • The 34-24 loss means that the Panthers are officially out of finals contention.
  • With this spectacular comeback win, the Parramatta Eels farewelled captain Jordan Rankin in style. Rankin has confirmed he will retire following this season.

Key moment

With Penrith leading by 20 points with little over twenty minutes remaining, a 40/20 attempt from retiring Parramatta half Jordan Rankin was knocked on by the Panthers in their attempt to diffuse the play.

From the next set of six, Parramatta’s unlikely comeback commenced when Lachlan Blackburn dived over to score in the 59th minute.

What's next?

The Panthers now miss out on a finals berth at this level for the first time since 2012, finishing somewhere between 6th and 8th place pending other results in Round 26. The Eels finish the 2023 season in 9th place.


Newcastle Knights v Newtown Jets

Jets secure win against Knights to keep finals hopes alive

Daneie Geddes

Game summary

The Newtown Jets have moved temporarily into the top five with a 48-10 victory over the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium in Round 26 of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

Jets centre Kayal Iro and five-eighth Mania Waitere were instrumental in the win, with Iro bagging three tries and Waitere planting one himself, and having a hand in two others.

Five minutes later, quick hands from Niwhai Puru to fullback Daniel Atkinson set up Iro again on the left side, adding four more points to the board for the visitors. Puru failed to convert making the scoreline 8-0.

Continuing to dominate, the Jets found more success in the 30th minute with a try to Kyle Pickering set up by a Rhys Dakin line-break. Puru successfully converted, giving the Jets a 14-point lead at halftime.

The Jets started the second half strong, sending Sam Stonestreet over for his second try in the opening minute. A successful Puru conversion extended their lead to 20-0.

Just three minutes later, the away team struck once more as Atkinson broke the line. Centre Addison Demetriou carried on the attack along the left flank, offloading to Waitere to score his first try of the day. A successful conversion by Puru added another two points to the Jets' lead.

Lock Brad Fearnley powered his way across the try-line and placed the ball under the posts in the 47th minute. Puru's conversion extended the Jets' lead to 32-0.

First points for the Knights came in the 55th minute when winger Lataia Moceidreke passed back infield, and the loose ball was cleaned up and grounded over the try-line by Kyle McCarthy. Despite Liam Sutton's unsuccessful conversion attempt, the score was narrowed to 32-4.

Minutes later Knights fullback David Armstrong broke loose from Jets defenders at halfway, then stepped through several more to score beneath the posts in a remarkable solo effort. A successful Sutton conversion made it 32-10.

The Jets found their rhythm again as Iro exploited a gap following a right-edge shift. A successful conversion by Puru made it 38-10. Newtown then capitalised on a Knights mistake as Iro muscled through to bag his third try of the afternoon. A missed conversion from Puru made it 46-10.

In the 78th minute, the Jets snuck in again with a ball finding its way to winger Jenson Taumoepeau in the left corner. Puru successfully converted, completing the Jets' victory with a 48-10 final score.

Talking points

  • Jets centre Kayal Iro dominated all afternoon with a hat-trick and an impressive effort from the in-goal area, leading to a Samuel Stonestreet try.
  • The visitors were dominant all over the park, scoring down the middle and on both flanks in an impressive attacking display.
  • The Knights showed promising signs, putting pressure on the Jets occasionally, yet struggled to score points in key moments.

Key moment

In the 59th minute with the Knights trailing by 28 points, David Armstrong emerged to give the Jets hope for a comeback. The Knights' fullback broke loose from Jets defenders at the halfway line and sprinted his way downfield to score in a remarkable solo effort.

What’s next?

The Newcastle Knights have now concluded their season, while the Jets keep their finals aspirations alive. Their finals opponent will be decided pending the outcomes of the Round 26.


Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles

Gutsy Sea Eagles secure finals footy in do-or-die clash

Anthony Eltarraf

Game summary

The stage was set for an absolute thriller at Accor Stadium on Sunday, with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles fighting it out for finals footy.

Late inclusion Kurtis Morrin kicked off the scoring just six minutes into the game, regathering the ball from his own grubber before beating the fullback to put the Bulldogs 6-0 up.

The home side continued to dominate the opening proceedings, doubling their lead when Joseph O’Neill put fullback Khaled Rajab through a gaping hole in the defence to score untouched.

The Sea Eagles kicked off the second half with a bang, scoring in the first set when Josh Schuster took the line on and broke through before offloading to Morgan Boyle to slide over.

The Sea Eagles took the lead for the first time in the game following a perfectly placed cutout pass to Clayton Faulalo to dive over in the corner yet again, to score his second try of the afternoon. An unsuccessful conversion attempt kept the score at 20-18.

Josh Schuster stepped up again, putting Jake Toby through a hole for a try on the left edge, before kicking a 40/20 to allow Ben Condon to plant the ball down under the posts in the next set.

With just over five minutes remaining, the Bulldogs finally got themselves on the scoresheet for the second half, with a left-side play finding Harry Hayes who finished off in the corner for a consolation try.

A dominant second-half display saw the Sea Eagles claim a 32-22 victory over the Bulldogs, securing a top-five spot and finals footy.

Talking points

  • Sea Eagles winger Clayton Faulalo continues to impress for 2023, scoring his 29th try in 23 NSW Cup appearances this year and finishing the regular season as leading try-scorer.
  • The second-half display from the Sea Eagles was almost faultless, scoring four unanswered tries to move themselves into the top five.
  • Josh Schuster stepped up and showcased his talent in the second period, setting up two tries and kicking a 40/20 to lead his side to victory.

Key moment

Morgan Boyle’s try proved the most important of the game, laying the platform for a dominant second-half display by the Sea Eagles to secure finals footy. In the first set of the second half, the Sea Eagles marched downfield before Schuster broke through the Bulldogs’ line and offloaded to Boyle to score the first of four unanswered tries.

What’s next?

The Bulldogs’ season ends in Round 26 with the side narrowly missing out on finals, while the Sea Eagles look to next week ahead of their matchup in week one of finals.


Sydney Roosters v Western Suburbs Magpies

Magpies end season on a high in 76-point epic

Mitchell Roese

Game summary

Western Suburbs Magpies claimed a resounding 44-32 victory over the Sydney Roosters which at Wentworth Park on Sunday.

After falling behind early, the Magpies pulled together tries in quick succession to claim a halftime lead, where they never let up to finish victors in Round 26.

A Roosters error in the opening set gifted Magpies first points, with a right-edge shift from the scrum base putting winger Sione Hopoate down the touchline and over to score.

The Roosters returned serve with a right-edge shift of their own, finding Noel Aukafolau for a millimetre perfect put-down in the corner.

The hosts struck again in the ensuing set as forward Naufahu Whyte found space and busted his way over to put his side ahead, before a fortunate bounce helped extend the Roosters' lead as Joseph Taipari latched onto a loose dummy-half pass and sent Riley Meyn over untouched.

The bouncing ball then favoured Western Suburbs in the following kick-off as the visitors took advantage, with James Valevatu scoring from hooker. The Roosters remained composed and reclaimed the two-try margin as fullback Ethan King burst into space and found centre Tyrell Neiufi. Jaxson Paulo converted to lead 22-12.

Brandon Wakeham’s kick-offs were proving dangerous for the Roosters in the first half and gave the Magies their next try after collecting the football on the fly. The Magpies then went through the hands to put Jay Kirk over in the left corner, before Tommy Talau crashed over the next set.

Expansive football gave the Magpies a 26-22 lead at halftime as John Tuivaiti found open space before he threw a long ball to Semisi Kioa for a try.

The Magpies resumed play with a try in the opening set of the half as Wakeham threw short to a barnstorming Jack Boyling who was unstoppable at close range.

The Roosters responded a few minutes later as Riley Meyn grabbed his second of the afternoon, courtesy of some quick hands in broken play.

The Magpies claimed consecutive tries late as Kioa bagged a hat-trick and James Roumanos crashed over adjacent to the uprights, before Roosters winger Jade Anderson provided a consolation try for the hosts, finishing the scores at 44-32 in favour of Western Suburbs.

Talking points

The Magpies have scored 44 points in both meetings against the Roosters in 2023.

Key moment

After conceding four tries in the opening half-hour, Western Suburbs were able to score three unanswered tries to end the first half four points ahead, where they would maintain their lead for the remainder of the contest.

What’s next?

Both sides bow out of the 2023 season, with the Roosters finishing in last place while the Magpies finish in 11th position.


North Sydney Bears v Canberra Raiders

Raiders defeat Bears to earn spot in finals

Ella Mullins

Game summary

The Canberra Raiders claimed a tremendous 36-14 victory over Minor Premiers, the North Sydney Bears, in Round 26 of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

The Bears scored first through Fetalagia Pauga, receiving a short pass from Josh Bergamin to charge down the right wing, busting through two defenders for a try. The conversion by halfback Ben Stevanovic was successful, providing the Bears an early six-point lead.

Minutes after their first try, forwards Kurt De Luis and Zach Dockar-Clay conjured a try for the captain. Another successful conversion for Stevanovic gave the Bears a 12-0 lead.

North Sydney's early dominance came to a halt after Canberra's Xavier Savage lit up the left wing, diving in the corner to score. Chevy Stewart's conversion was successful as the Raiders trailed 12-6.

The Raiders went back-to-back with a try from Brad Morkos, followed by a Stewart conversion to tie the scores up at 12-all with three minutes of play remaining in the half. 

With less than a minute remaining, a penalty to the Raiders gave them the opportunity to one up the Bears before halftime. Opting to take the two points, Stewart successfully gave his side a 14-12 lead heading into the sheds.

It was an explosive start to the second half, but the Bears managed to tie up the scores at 14-all with a penalty goal six minutes into the second half.

Both sides took hits after key players including Canberra's Chevy Stewart and North Sydney's Fetalaiga Pauga were given 10 minutes in the bin.

The Bears’ Allan Fitzgibbon was later put on report after two high tackle warnings. This resulted in a penalty goal for the Raiders, leading 16-14 with 18 minutes remaining.

The Raiders capitalised on their lead with another two converted tries and a penalty goal to go ahead 30-14.

The Raiders proved to be too good for the Minor Premiers, with a final try and conversion by Chevy Stewart leaving the Bears with a 22-point loss.

Talking points

  • With finals looming, the Raiders were desperate to take out today’s win to make the top five.
  • Canberra and North Sydney delivered smart attacking sets throughout the match, but it was the Raiders who had the better of the Bears today.

Key moment

Canberra's back-to-back tries in the first half caused a shift in momentum for the Raiders, which carried into the second half.

What’s next?

Next week will mark the start of Finals Week One, with both teams qualifying for finals in first and fourth position.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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